CAPE TOWN – You are always going to be a little tentative when you are not picking a wrist-spinner’s “wrong ’un”.
That was the view of Proteas left-hander JP Duminy on Wednesday night after the South Africans were once again bamboozled by the Indian spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in a 124-run defeat in the third ODI at Newlands.
After making a promising start in chasing a sizable 304 for victory – set up by Virat Kohli’s marvellous 160 not out – the hosts went from 79/2 to 179 all out, largely due to the brilliance of the Indian spin twins.
Left-arm wrist-spinner Yadav started spinning the web with just his second ball on a warm evening in Cape Town when he left stand-in captain Aiden Markram stranded with a terrific delivery that went away from the right-hander.
Markram, on 32, tried to work it through the leg-side, but was totally flummoxed by the sharp turn, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni completed the stumping.
Right-arm leg-spinner Chahal then got in on the act, ripping the ball past Heinrich Klaasen’s outside edge to trap the debutant Proteas wicket-keeper – who strangely came in at No 4 – lbw for six as the Titans man appeared to play for the googly instead.
But the big wicket was that of Duminy, who stroked his way to a classy 51 – his 25th ODI half-century.
Chahal tossed it up and extracted slow turn from the pitch, but instead of coming forward in positive fashion, Duminy went back on to his stumps to try to flick it off his pads for a single and missed it.
Umpire Adrian Holdstock raised his finger, and even though Duminy’s body language suggested that he knew he was right in front, it looked like he was encouraged to review the decision by David Miller – which he reluctantly did, but to no avail.
Chahal and Yadav ended with four wickets apiece, and left the Proteas batting unit with sleepless nights ahead of Saturday’s Pink ODI at the Wanderers.
Of the 27 South African wickets claimed by bowlers in this series, 21 have been taken by the spinners.
“I think the key is definitely to try and be positive. But unfortunately on a few occasions, we haven’t picked their wrong ’uns,” Duminy said at the post-match press conference on Wednesday night.
“And when you are not picking their wrong ’un, you are not necessarily comfortable at the crease – so you are always going to be a little tentative.
“I think once you become comfortable with picking their deliveries, that’s when you can play with confidence, play with freedom. So, we need to find a way to get that right.”
Duminy felt that the major difference between the Proteas and Indian tweakers was the variety in the speed of their deliveries.
“They have probably assessed the conditions better than us from a bowling perspective. We’ve noticed that they’ve probably bowled a touch slower than our spinners, and I think that’s where they’ve been quite effective,” the 33-year-old said.
“They haven’t bowled the ball full enough for us to get the ball down the ground – that’s where we’ve been successful in South African conditions.
“So, we’ve got to make sure that we have different strategies for that – find a way of not only scoring boundaries, but finding the ones square of the wicket as well.
“I think that’s going to have to be our game plan going forward.”